I have been influenced by N.T. Wright and his emphasis on the historical aspect of the covenant. I believe the story of Abraham is all of our story. It’s the one big story. But this isn’t the space I want to devote to the specifics and consequences of all that. Worth studying Romans using his For Everyone or his commentary in The New Interpreter’s Bible though if that’s your thang…
Today I just want to focus on a few verses from the reading in Mark’s gospel. 8:34-35 specifically… “if any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”
That’s upside down it seems. Foolishness Paul calls it. It turns the powers inside out. What we are presented as the reality of this world, this life… things like power and security and greed and selfishness and hatred and an inward focus… those things, it seems, we should release. Let go. And instead embrace salvation in what Paul refers to as the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Considering others better than ourselves. Giving up selfish ambition and vain conceit. Going the extra mile. Offering my coat also. Throwing the best party for the homecoming of the one who squandered everything. Going out after the one that is lost while the ninety-nine hang back. Offering love and hope and grace to those the world claims are untouchable and unworthy. The gospel. Lose the life that the powers of this age claim are necessary to survive and thrive, and be saved by the True Life found in letting go and offering all that you have for the other.
It’s my favorite person’s born day today! She teaches me each day what this self-sacrificial love looks like. A true servant. A generous soul. She empathizes with all and labors and longs to bring wholeness and holiness to bear on their lives. She considers others. I try to be like her.
The Avett Brothers sing in one of our family’s favorites “And if you take of my soul you can still leave it whole with the pieces of your own you leave behind.” I don’t have to worry about giving of myself. Our souls will replenish each other.
So, “if I’m walkin’ through the rain and I hear you call my name, I will break into a run without a pause.”
I’m for self-care. I enjoy quiet time in my special nook. I visit our friend Erin once a month for a healing massage. And I recognize the need for Sarah and the kids to have their own times where they can replenish. But I don’t want to lose sight of the reason for doing those things to re-liven our bodies and souls. This life is a great gift. And in large part, or maybe in all the parts, it is such a gift because of the joy and satisfaction of sharing all that we have and all that we are with others. I suppose it makes a nice perfect circle, or sphere of some other dimension, when we are all giving in that way. The giving and receiving. Reciprocal. Eternal. Much like what I imagine the relationship the Trinity shares. More than One. And also One.
So sing it out! “We came to break the bad, we came to cheer the sad, we came to leave the world a better way!”